Just a mention on the TV broadcast that Ryan Franklin is warming up in the bullpen seems to send my Twitter feed into a frenzy. Once he’s in the game, there are many dread-filled tweets with each batter he faces. But the facts speak for themselves: after last night, Franklin is now seven for seven in save opportunities. He’s second in the National League at the moment, tied with Francisco Cordero of the Reds and one behind Matt Capps of the Nationals.
No position player or other pitcher is held under closer scrutiny than a closer, and no one else is blamed more when he doesn’t get his job done. I remember reading once that a closer needs to have a short memory. Maybe the same needs to hold true for fans, since many seem to hold grudges for an extremely long time when it comes to blowing games.
And that’s Franklin’s “sin” this season, and the reason for the doom-and-gloom tweets: what he did at the end of 2009. He had three blown saves in September, although he did end up as the winning pitcher on Sept. 19 against the Cubs. Then there’s October, game two of the division series against the Dodgers, when he blew the save and was the losing pitcher. Had Matt Holliday caught that infamous fly ball by James Loney, would Franklin have received praise for getting the job done? My guess is no.
Of course, Franklin was not stellar on opening day this year, which just fed the carryover panic from 2009. It was a not save situation when Franklin entered the game for the bottom of the ninth on April 5, since the Cardinals were leading 11-4 at the time. He allowed three hits and two runs (both scoring with two outs) to give him an 18.00 ERA to start the season. But, three weeks later, it’s down to 3.60.
Ryan Franklin is not the type of closer who will instill fear in batters when he comes into the game, because he’s not a strikeout pitcher. He’s not Mariano Rivera, he’s not Brian Wilson, he’s not Trevor Hoffman. (Although the Cardinals don’t seem to have any fear of the all-time saves leader.) And Monday night’s save was probably typical, with giving up two hits (although the hit by Matt Diaz, rolling along the third base line, was a fluke) yet getting a double play and another ground out. Job done, seventh consecutive save.
Is Franklin going to blow a game sometime? Chances are, yes. It’s not often a closer doesn’t at some point during the season, Brad Lidge in 2008 notwithstanding. And, if it happens, I’m sure I’ll read tweet after tweet about how everyone knew all along how terrible Franklin is. But why not forget about 2009 for now – everyone seems to have forgiven Matt Holliday for game 2 against the Dodgers, so why not Ryan Franklin?
I’m going to keep following the advice Erika gave last night in the form of a Twitter hashtag: #FaithInFranklin. Why not? He’s earned my support.
Photo: Yahoo! Sports